The star-ship Avalon is on a 120-year trip to colonise a new planet, a distant world called Homestead II. On board are 5000 passengers, all in deep cryo sleep until 4 months before their arrival. The ship is on autopilot and is clever enough to diagnose itself and perform its own repairs along the way. Unfortunately though, a journey through an asteroid field just 30 years into the trip leads to a series of system failures causing one of the cryo pods to open and release engineer Jim (Chris Pratt). After the initial disorientation of waking from hibernation, he begins to wonder why he’s alone. Many of the automated computer presentations and messages he’s seeing are all acting as though he’s part of a larger audience who are only 4 months from their destination, not 90 years. It’s only when he finds his way to the observatory and is able to see the ships location in relation to Earth and Homestead II, that it all sinks in.
He’s able to send a message back to Earth but when he’s informed that his message will take 17 years to arrive then 30 years to receive a reply (at a cost to him of $6000!), he realises he’s on his own. His attempts to start up his cryo pod again fail and his security clearance does not allow him access to the ships bridge and other important areas which may help him. It’s a big ship, 1000 metres long with a perfect shiny interior and enough resource to happily sustain a ship of 5000 people when all are awake. But it’s also a pretty lonely place to be if you’re the only one awake…
His only company is an android bartender called Arthur (brilliantly played by Michael Sheen), happy to listen and give out words of wisdom when needed. He eventually tells Jim to just live life and enjoy it, and for a while Jim does exactly that. He does what anyone would do with plenty of alone time on his hands and an abundance of booze, video games and cinema at their disposal. But after a year of being on his own he begins to spiral into depression and despair, growing a messy beard and long hair and even contemplating suicide – a totally different Chris Pratt to the one we’re used to seeing. But then Jim discovers another passenger, a New York writer called Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence).
Initially Aurora goes through the same process that Jim first did, unable to accept her fate and needing to find a way back home or back into hibernation. As Jim and Aurora get to know each other, romance begins to blossom. There’s been mixed reactions to the chemistry between the leads in this movie, but for me it was totally believable. I’m not usually a fan of Jennifer Lawrence either but I really liked her in this.
There’s a dip in the middle while true love sets in and all we see is them making out or having sex all the time. But Jim and Aurora’s relationship is built on a lie, and it’s not long before things go terribly wrong. And at the same time, the Avalon itself begins to malfunction too. The little Roomba robots, happy to clean up after Jim and his early slob like behaviour, begin to break down and fail. More important parts of the ship begin failing too, such as gravity control (kind of important…), and it becomes apparent that unless Jim and Aurora work together, their lives and those of the 5000 passengers onboard will perish. The movie steps up into action mode at this point, with real danger, some pretty high stakes, and an uncertainty as to how it’s all going to pan out on a number of occasions.
I was worried how much I was going to enjoy Passengers as I’ve read some pretty varied reviews so far. But I really enjoyed it. The minimal cast play their parts well, and visually the movie is pretty impressive.